Mapping bipolar worlds: Lived geographies of ‘madness’ in autobiographical accounts

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This article aims to advance our understanding of women's and men's experiences of negotiating bipolar ‘madness’ in society and space. It addresses gaps in the clinical literature on life with bipolar and geographic accounts of ‘madness’ and psycho-emotional distress by considering altered ways of being in place that bipolar ‘madness’ entails and how narrative sense is made of these. Conceptually, I build on Cosgrove's (2000) approach to psycho-emotional distress and geographic insights about being ‘mad’ in place. Methodologically and empirically, I draw on thematic narrative analysis of autobiographies of living with bipolar. Key findings include altered paradoxically (dis)embodied ways of being-in-place, ‘fractured’ or ‘whole’ senses of self and ways of relating to people/places, ‘straddling’ ‘real’ and ‘delusional’ worlds and bipolar ways of negotiating places are not straightforwardly ‘irrational’. While narrative accounts most often invoke dominant discourses about bipolar, sometimes these are challenged through ‘rescripting’ and ‘revaluing mad’ identities and ways of being in place.

In conclusion, key findings and avenues for future geographical research are discussed.

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